Orphan Black’s Ari Millen on Getting Into His Clone Identities

Orphan Black Ari Millen
BBC America
Orphan Black Ari Millen

Last season’s reveal of the Project Castor clones was one of the most shocking moments on Orphan Black to date – and we’ve seen some pretty hairy things so far. (Pencil in the eye, anyone?) Castor is the military’s version of Project Leda’s female clones (played by Tatiana Maslany), which resulted in Sarah, Helena, Cosima, Alison, and others. So far, the male set of genetic identicals (played by Ari Millen) is comprised of former-Prolethean/Castor spy Mark, the crazed and locked-up Rudy, the uniformed Miller, and a mysterious fourth clone with a creepy moustache named Seth seen in the trailer. Millen spoke to us about taking on multiple roles and the stories behind his clone identities.

When did you learn about these new characters you’re playing?

They knew they wanted the clones before they knew who the clones were, basically. The end of Season 2 it was just sort of this reveal of these guys, and then we had the whole summer for me to hound Graeme Manson and John Fawcett, the creators. “Who are these guys? Who are these guys?” As we got closer to the third season, they started having more ideas about the plotline. I was able to develop at that point.

How did your first multi-clone scene go?

It was during pre-production and we sort of did a practice run. It was between Rudy, who is the scarface, and the guy called Seth, who is the guy in the teaser trailer with the mustache. We weren’t using the technicality at that point, which is the really complicated cloning stuff. But we just sort of locked off the camera and we ran this scene and it turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. Well, the things that I thought were going to be hard were easy, and the things that I thought were going to be easy were hard.

What turned out to be easy?

I knew I was going to be busy. I didn’t know I was going to be as busy as I was. I thought that being busy was going to be hard, but I guess when you’re doing something that you’re really passionate about, it doesn’t turn out that way. So that was a very pleasant surprise. You get worn down, you need your sleep but it makes you sleep easy. In the technical stuff with acting to a tennis ball or acting to nothing, I thought that was going to be really difficult. And as it turns out it was a bit easier because we have such a supportive team around. It was less daunting in the end.

What did you find was actually difficult?

I had to make sure that I had a good hold on the other side, the other character’s trajectory through the scene; otherwise it would get lost in what we shot the first time. I shot with one character and I made all the decisions with the first character. Then when flipped around to the other character, I was kind of stuck with those choices and the other character wouldn’t have input the same way. That was a big learning curve that happened very quickly.

Let’s talk about some of your clones. Tell us where the newlywed Mark is at now.

The revelation [that he’s been a Castor spy] kind of opens up a lot about him that I didn’t even know about him last season. At the end of the second season, he’s eloped with Gracie (Zoe de Grand Maison); he’s run away from the Proletheans very early on in the season. With what we learned about Castor and who they are, we learned that he ran away from the tigers and now he’s dealing with the lions. He’s not fitting. He’s the same guy, but we’ll learn a lot more about him. There will be a lot more depth to him this season, which is really fun.

How about Rudy? What’s his deal?

He’s a true manipulator. Depending on who he’s dealing with, depending on what he wants, he’ll change who he is. He’s definitely more of a wild guy. I think one of the things when we went in, when we were talking about who these guys were, the Castor guys, it was like a fraternity of brothers. Rudy’s very much that alpha.

What about the third clone we saw in the finale outside of the plane, Miller?

Miller is probably the most loyal to Castor. He’s the most military of them. There’s no dust anywhere in his barracks. He doesn’t question. We knew who Mark was, and Rudy was almost the opposite in a way to Mark. So I just wanted just sort of this rigidity.

Is there a different way you get into character for each one?

Well, normally I read the script and develop the character that way. But because of how it happened last season, for the new clones, I got a visual cue of who they were first before I knew anything about them. So this season, it was more about going into hair and makeup. Getting the scar, getting the different hair, seeing myself in the mirror and then going back and sort of applying the work that I had figured out after the fact. It was very much a visual cue in for me from these guys this season.

–Interview by Aubry D’Arminio; additional writing by Emily Maas

Orphan Black, Saturdays, 9/8c, BBC America